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Household Shocks, Crime, and Policing

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 3, 2020 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM (PST)

Marriott Marquis, Grand Ballroom 1
Hosted By: American Economic Association
  • Chair: Erdal Tekin, American University

Do Income Shocks Affect Domestic Violence?

Analisa Packham
,
Vanderbilt University
Jillian Carr
,
Purdue University

Abstract

This paper exploits a policy change in Illinois that altered monthly nutritional assistance benefits dates to estimate the impact of in-kind benefit receipt on domestic violence. We find that issuing SNAP benefits on days other than the first of the month increases crimes committed later in the month and those effects are not fully offset by decreases on the first. On average, we find the shifting benefit dates increases domestic abuse by 7.1% and child maltreatment by 27.5%. We posit that these effects are driven by increases in opportunities for within-household conflict and/or changes in drug use.

The Minimum Wage, EITC, and Criminal Recidivism

Amanda Agan
,
Rutgers University
Michael Makowsky
,
Clemson University

Abstract

For recently released prisoners, the minimum wage and the availability of state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs) can influence both their ability to find employment and their potential legal wages relative to illegal sources of income, in turn affecting the probability they return to prison. Using administrative prison release records from nearly six million offenders released between 2000 and 2014, we use a difference-in-differences strategy to identify the effect of over two hundred state and federal minimum wage increases, as well as 21 state EITC programs, on recidivism. We find that the average minimum wage increase of $0.50 reduces the probability that men and women return to prison within 1 year by 2.8%. This implies that on average the effect of higher wages, drawing at least some released prisoners into the legal labor market, dominates any reduced employment in this population due to the minimum wage. These reductions in returns to incarcerations are observed for the potentially revenue generating crime categories of property and drug crimes; prison reentry for violent crimes are unchanged, supporting our framing that minimum wages affect crime that serves as a source of income. The availability of state EITCs also reduces recidivism, but only for women.

The Effect of Police Officer Race on Use of Force

Mark Hoekstra
,
Texas A&M University
CarlyWill Sloan
,
Texas A&M University

Abstract

While there is much concern about the effect of race on policing, identifying causal effects is difficult due to endogenous police-civilian interactions. This paper identifies effects using data on over 2 million 911 calls in two cities, neither of which allows for discretion by operators or police in the dispatch process. Using a location-by-time fixed effects approach that isolates the random variation in officer race, we show white officers use force 60 percent more than black officers, and use gun force twice as often. In addition, while black officers' use of force and gun force increases at most modestly as they are dispatched to calls in more black neighborhoods, white officers' use of force and especially gun force increases much more. As a result, difference-in-differences estimates from officer fixed effects models imply that opposite-race (white vs. black) officers are 1.3 to 1.6 times as likely to use any force and five times as likely to use gun force. Results from the second city indicate white and Hispanic officers are twice as likely to use force in opposite-race neighborhoods. These findings highlight the importance of race as a key determinant of police use of force, including and especially force in which an officer fires his gun.

Violence While in Utero: The Impact of Assaults During Pregnancy on Birth Outcomes

Michael Mueller-Smith
,
University of Michigan
Janet Currie
,
Princeton University
Maya Rossin-Slater
,
Stanford University

Abstract

Evidence about the effects of violent crime on victims is sparse, but is necessary to measure the social costs of crime and the cost-effectiveness of policy interventions in the justice system. We present new evidence about the effects of violent crime on pregnancy and infant health outcomes, using unique linked administrative data from New York City. We compare mothers who lived in a home where an assault was re- ported during their pregnancies to mothers who lived in a home where an assault took place shortly after the birth. We find that assaults during pregnancy significantly increase the incidence of negative birth outcomes. Our results are robust to the use of alternative control groups and to using maternal fixed effects models.
Based on these impacts, we calculate that the social cost per assault during pregnancy is at least $31,942, implying a total annual cost of around $3.24 billion. Since infant health is a strong predictor of life-long well-being and women of lower socioeconomic status are more likely to be victims of domestic abuse, violence in utero is an important potential channel for intergenerational transmission of inequality.
Discussant(s)
Benjamin Hansen
,
University of Oregon
David Phillips
,
University of Notre Dame
Matthew Freedman
,
University of California-Irvine
Kirsten Cornelson
,
University of Notre Dame
JEL Classifications
  • K4 - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior
  • K1 - Basic Areas of Law